Save by shopping for generic drugs
These cost increases fall hardest on those who lack
prescription drug insurance. A study conducted by researchers from
the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, reveals that consumers
without prescription drug coverage pay, on average, 60.3 percent
more for prescription drugs than the federal government pays for
the prescription drugs it buys for its hospitals, employees and
The federal government, like large insurance companies,
is able to use its buying power to negotiate steep decreases in the costs of prescription
drugs. Individual consumers without health insurance can't.
Despite the lack of group-buying muscle, careful consumers
can cut their prescription drug tabs significantly by comparison
shopping in their local area and online.
A study by the National Center for Policy Analysis,
a policy research think tank, reveals that aggressive price-comparison
shopping can reduce the costs for some common drugs by as much as
The best way to trim prescription drug costs is to
call some local pharmacies, grocery and department stores and also
check online sources. While you may end up having to order your
meds from a variety of local and online sources, you can save
substantial amounts of money.
The safety issue
Pharmacists note that there is no discernable difference in the
quality of brand-name and generic drugs and that the FDA regulates
The FDA's director of the Office of Generic Drugs,
Gary J. Buehler, affirms that, saying: "The American public
can be confident that when a generic drug product is approved, it
has met the rigorous standards established by the FDA with respect
to identity, strength, quality, purity and potency.
"Through review of data on proposed products,
the Office of Generic Drugs assures that generic products will perform
the same as their respective brand name reference products. In the
same manner, generic manufacturing and packaging sites must pass
all of the same quality standards as those of brand-name drugs and
the generic products must meet the same exacting specifications
as any new innovator drug product."
Because generics have been on the market for years, there is more
time for potential side effects and problems to surface than there
is with new drugs that have their effectiveness and safety tested
in limited clinical trials.
Worstpills.org, a project of the consumer advocacy
group Public Citizen, claims that generics are actually safer than
name-brand drugs due to the difference in the time period that brand-name
and generics have been out in the market being used by consumers.
The site notes that there have been many more incidences of health
problems associated with brand-name drugs up to seven years after
launch than there have been with generic drugs.
According to a Worstpills.org report: "Examples
of such disasters, which collectively have killed hundreds of Americans
and injured thousands more, have evolved the arthritis drug and
painkillers Oraflex, Suprol and Zomax; the antidepressant Merital;
the high blood pressure drug Selacryn; the diet drugs Pondimin,
half of the once popular fen/phen combination, and its close cousin
Redux; Posicor, a drug for high blood pressure and chest pain; the
diabetes drug Rezulin; and the painkiller Duract. Because of the
serious dangers of these 10 drugs, all were taken off the market."
Worstpills.org recommends that consumers stay away
from newly launched drugs for several years to avoid just such problems.
Consumer's Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, has charged that
companies launching brand-name drugs neglect to report problems
with newer drugs and that drug industry lobbyists are working to
water down new proposed drug safety measures under consideration
As many brand-name drugs go off patent, more generic drugs will
enter the market in coming years, which is likely to slow overall
price increases in the prescription drug market.